All These Lives

Awake since 1 a.m., it occurs to me that I should be writing…something. But alas, I sit here thinking of clever topics and have come up empty-handed. My journal is in the bedroom just out of reach, so I will blog about something and hope that clever shows up later.

I have been doing a lot of pondering about my life lately. Or, should I say, my “lives”. I’m not sure why, but it may be all the paramount changes I’ve made the past few years. Thinking over the recent history that is my life, it’s no wonder I can’t seem to get a good night’s rest. My older sister says that even good change creates stress. She is right.

Kicking off a string of life-changing events that feel a bit like being trapped in the middle of a snowball rolling downhill, just over two years ago (at the turn of the 2011 New Year), I lost my only son. He was 22, and very close to my daughter, my family and I. He died an unexpected, violent death. That event drew a dark, heavy line between the life that I used to have, and the life I now live. It was the single, most difficult time of my life and it changed me. Forever.

Since that time, my daughter has moved away and is a dorm-living freshman in college. I am proud of her, beyond words. She suffered a few tough blows in high school. In the summer before 11th grade, a rogue, medical condition radically and immediately changed her life, throwing her into surgeries and years of complex medical testing that has now become the norm for us. That medical diagnosis was followed within months of the loss of her only sibling. It was unbelievably difficult on her. True to her nature, she has effectively dealt with both traumatic events and grown into a beautiful and accomplished young lady. I am in awe of her and all she is doing to ensure a great future for herself.

With my daughter entering campus life, I became an empty nester. It seemed like a sudden blow, which is a bit ridiculous in reality. After all, I did have 18 years to prepare. Still, I was not ready for her departure. I was on a planned business trip the week she moved out. When I returned, I came home to a house that felt empty and a note from her that, in part, said, “Mom, try not to be sad. I know this is a big change but it’s pretty awesome that I’m getting this opportunity.” I cried that whole night. Work the next day was a bit rough, but time went by and I started to accept the fact that both my kids were out of the house. He was forever gone, and she was doing exactly what I wanted for her. The time had come for me to redefine myself. “Normal” was gone, and it wasn’t coming back.

Soon thereafter, I became involved in a serious relationship. We became inseparable and things advanced quickly. We got engaged in the months that followed. Soon after, I moved in with him. All good things. But those things are life-changing things too.

A few weeks prior to our engagement, I also made a huge change to my career by leaving the agency I’d been with for so many years. This was a tough move for me, as I loved my long-term position and coworkers. Having been a state-level emergency manager for almost 6 years, I decided to take a promotion. But that meant a huge job and lifestyle change. It was good for me and I’m happy I did it. But, the words of my wise, elder sister once again raced through my mind. “Even good change creates stress.”

Among these huge life changes, I travel differenly than I did in my prior job. I spend a good deal of time in hospitals that are in my six-county region. I have a new respect for nurses, doctors, and all medical personnel that spend their days in places where sick people come to get help. As for my flawed immune system, I am uncertain whether that exposure is the reason every flu and cold bug has decided to make my body the place called home the past months. I will become more resilient as time passes.

Amidst my own life events, I keep in touch with many friends that are scattered across the entire United States. Their lives are changing too. Every time I get on a plane bound somewhere, I can’t help thinking about all of the different lives I live. East Coast friends, Midwest meetings, West Coast family…I have traveled to so many places so often that I feel as though I have a different family everywhere. And they are all unique, every one. The life I have with my daughter is its own category of living, and so on. Again, all good things. But change creates…

Life is truly a web we weave over time. Within that web, there are so many paths leading us in different directions. It is sometimes difficult to make sure one life we are living does not shake one of the other lives and throw it off balance. But that is one of the tricks to being effective, isn’t it? I hope there is a reward waiting somewhere for those of us who can keep all the plates in the air spinning.

A long time from now when I have drawn my last breath, perhaps I will be presented with a choice to either go somewhere else or come back this way again and do it all over. All things considered, I would choose a similar career, wish to be born to the same mother and father and would ask for the exact same siblings, kids and nephew. I’m hoping it’s like a menu that you get in a restaurant. I would choose a little of everything but largely stick to those items familiar to me.

Forty-five years I have been on this planet. My corner of the world seems expansive. The part of the web I created just 10 years ago seems like a lifetime ago now, and new web is being added as I go along. The older I get, the less I remember which part of that web leads where.

Still, as I sit here pondering over every good thing and bad thing, happy times and confoundingly sad times, I can only say that I am satisfied overall with all these lives. I count myself among the most blessed of all humans. And that is a very good place to be.

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About Jana Brock

We don't see things as they are. We see things as we are.
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